Vineyards, Wineries and Breweries
Taste some of England's finest wines and ales when you visit the vineyards, wineries and breweries in Maidstone.
Stunning Vineyards and Award-Winning Wines
Maidstone and the surrounding area has similar soils to the Champagne region in France and in consequence it is able to produce some very fine quality grapes resulting in exceptional wines. Hush Heath Winery near Staplehurst produces Balfour Brut Rose which won a Decanter Gold Award for its 2010 vintage. The colour is the palest pink with a very clean and crisp initial taste to the palette with a complex finish. Well worth a try and certainly rating amongst the finest wines produced in England.
Jake’s Orchard is an unusual but very delicate cider, akin to a fine wine. This cider is made with a base of apple, instead of grapes, using methode champnoise.
A number of other wines and exceptional ciders are produced from Hush Heath Winery and a visit, tour and walk are highly recommended.
Other vineyards locally are East Sutton, Chapel Down and the award-winning Biddenden Vineyard amongst a host of others. All of which produce some good wines and are fun to look around.
Maidstone is famous for its breweries and, in recent years, for its vineyards and wine production. The making of these drinks has played an important part in its past and continues to play an important role in its future.
A Thirst for Real Ale
Maidstone had some six breweries sited in the town itself from approximately 1650, and hop gardens crowded the Kent countryside, where they were harvested and roasted in the oast kilns, which still form a major distinctive part of the landscape today. Beer was important for health in medieval times as the water was not always of consumable quality, and was even drunk by children.
The only remaining brewery currently in the town is Goacher’s Brewery in Tovil. This is a micro-brewery by todays standards, but is still family-run and produces ales in the traditional way with barley and hops. The Rifle Volunteers in Wyatt Street, the Royal Paper Mill in Tovil and the Walnut Tree in Tonbridge Road all sell Goacher’s Ale. Goacher’s supply a number of other pubs across Kent and so if you are on your travels around the county you might be lucky in finding one.
Kent still has an excellent brewing heritage and famous brands, such as Spitfire Beer from Shepherd Neame, can be found in a good number of pubs locally.
Maiden Distillery is another micro-business, occupying the remaining parts of the old Medway Brewery in Buckland Road. Maidstone has a long history of gin production and this distillery was set up to resurrect this industry. It currently produces gin and a genever-style spirit, with more products planned for the future.
With its history of fruit production, Kent has some excellent fruit juices to sample at places such as Biddenden and Chegworth. Much production also goes into commercial sales to meet the international market.